A Select Collection of Old English Plays, Vol. II
by Robert Dodsley
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"There is no proper plot to the piece, the whole action consisting in getting Jenkin Careawaie into as much trouble as possible, when he is left to go to bed with aching bones, and wishing bad luck to his second self. He does not get off with a beating from Jack and his master. The servant-maid lends her tongue, and her mistress both tongue and hand, for the amusement of the spectators and the revenge of Jack Juggler. Those who are acquainted with the tedious performances of those times will recognise with pleasure an uncommon raciness and spirit in this little interlude. The lines are rude, but sharp and bold, and Dame Coye may even be called a well-drawn and original character.

"In Mr Wright's 'Early Mysteries, and other Latin Poems of the Twelfth and Thirteenth Centuries,' will be found a rather clever and once very popular poem, founded on 'Amphitryon,' the 'Geta' of Vital of Blois. Amphitryon in this is a student of Greek learning, and the awkwardness of Alcmena's situation, after Jupiter's visit is got over, by her assuring her confiding husband that she thinks the whole affair must have been a dream."



Interpone tuis interdum gaudia curis, Vt possis animo quemvis sufferre laborem. Do any of you know what Latin is this? Or else would you have an Expositorem To declare it in English per sensum planiorem? It is best I speak English, or else within a while I may percase mine own self with my Latin beguile.

The two verses, which I rehearsed before, I find written in the Book of Cato the wise Among good precepts of living a thousand more, Which to follow there he doth all men avise And they may be Englished briefly in this wise: Among thy careful business use sometime mirth and joy, That no bodily work thy wits break or 'noy.

For the mind (saith he), in serious matters occupied, If it have not some quiet mirth and recreation Interchangeable admixed, must needs be soon wearied, And (as who should say) tried through continual operation Of labour and business without relaxation. Therefore intermix honest mirth in such wise That your strength may be refreshed, and to labours suffice.

For as meat and drink, natural rest and sleep, For the conservation and health of the body, Must needs be had, so the mind and wits to keep Pregnant, fresh, industrious, quick and lusty, Honest mirth and pastime is requisite and necessary; For, Quod caret alterna requie durabile non est: Nothing may endure (saith Ouid) without some rest.

Example proof hereof in earth is well found, Manifest, open, and very evident; For except the husbandman suffer his ground Sometimes to rest, it woll bear no fruit verament; Therefore they let the field lie every second year To the end that, after rest, it may the better corn bear.

Thus then (as I have said) it is a thing natural, And naturally belonging to all living creatures, And unto man especially above others all, To have at times convenient pastance, mirth and pleasures, So they be joined with honesty, and kept within due measures; And the same well allowed not only the said Cato, But also the Philosophers, Plutarch, Socrates, and Plato.

And Cicero Tullius, a man sapient and wise, Willeth the same, in that his first book, Which he wrote and entituled of an honest man's office: Who so is disposed thereupon to look, Where to define and affirm he boldly on him took, That to hear interludes is pastime convenient For all manner men, and a thing congruent.

He reckoneth that namely as a very honest disport, And above all other things commendeth the old comedy, The hearing of which may do the mind comfort; For they be replenished with precepts of philosophy: They contain much wisdom, and teach prudent policy; And though they be all writers of matters of none importance, Yet they show great wit, and much pretty conveyance.

And in this manner of making Plautus did excel, As recordeth the same Tullius, commending him by name: Wherefore this maker delighteth passingly well To follow his arguments, and draw out the same, For to make at seasons convenient pastimes, mirth and game: As now he hath done this matter, not worth an oyster shell, Except percase it shall fortune to make you laugh well.

And for that purpose only this maker did it write, Taking the ground thereof out of Plautus first comedy And the first sentence of the same; for higher things indite In no wise he would, for yet the time is so queasy, That he that speaketh best, is least thank-worthy. Therefore, sith nothing but trifles may be had, You shall hear a thing that only shall make you merry and glad.

And such a trifling matter, as when it shall be done, Ye may report and say ye have heard nothing at all. Therefore I tell you all, before it be begun, That no man look to hear of matters substantial, Nor matters of any gravity either great or small For this maker showed us that such manner things Do never well beseem little boys' handlings.

Wherefore, if ye will not sourly your brows bend At such a fantastical conceit as this, But can be content to hear and see the end, I woll go show the Players what your pleasure is; Which to wait upon you I know be ready ere this. I woll go send them hither into your presence, Desiring that they may have quiet audience.

* * * * *

JACK JUGGLER. Our Lord of heaven and sweet Saint John Rest you merry, my masters everychone; And I pray to Christ and sweet Saint Stephen Send you all many a good even! And you too, sir, and you, and you also, Good even to you an hundred times and a thousand mo. Now by all these crosses of flesh, bone, and blood, I reckon my chance right marvellous good, Here now to find all this company, Which in my mind I wished for heartily; For I have laboured all day, till I am weary, And now am disposed to pass the time, and be merry. And I think none of you, but he would do the same, For who woll be sad, and needeth not, is foul to blame; And as for me, of my mother I have been taught To be merry when I may, and take no thought. Which lesson I bare so well away, That I use to make merry once a day. And now, if all things happen right, You shall see as mad a pastime this night, As you saw this seven years, and as proper a toy As ever you saw played of a boy. I am called Jack Juggler of many an one, And in faith I woll play a juggling cast anon. I woll conjure the nowl,[175] and God before! Or else let me lese my name for evermore. I have it devised, and compassed how, And what ways I woll tell and show to you. You all know well Master Bongrace,[176] The gentleman that dwelleth here in this place? And Jenkin Careaway his page, as cursed a lad, And as ungracious as ever man had, An unhappy wage, and as foolish a knave withal, As any is now within London wall. This Jenkin and I been fallen at great debate For a matter, that fell between us a-late; And hitherto of him I could never revenged be, For his master maintaineth him, and loveth not me; Albeit, the very truth to tell, Nother of them both knoweth me not very well. But against all other boys the said gentleman Maintaineth him all that he can. But I shall set little by my wit, If I do not Jenkin this night requite. Ere I sleep, Jenkin shall be met, And I trust to come partly out of his debt; And when we meet again, if this do not suffice, I shall pay Jenkin the residue in my best wise. It chanced me right now in the other end of the next street With Jenkin and his master in the face to meet. I abode there a while, playing for to see At the bucklers, as well became me. It was not long time; but at the last Back cometh my cousin Careaway homeward full fast: Pricking, prancing, and springing in his short coat, And pleasantly singing with a merry note. Whither away so fast? tarry a while, said one. I cannot now, said Jenkin, I must needs be gone. My master suppeth hereby at a gentleman's place, And I must thither fetch my dame, Mistress Bongrace. But yet, ere I go, I care not much At the bucklers to play with thee one fair touch. To it they went, and played so long, Till Jenkin thought he had wrong. By Cock's precious podstick, I will not home this night, Quod he, but as good a stripe on thy head light! Within half an hour, or somewhat less, Jenkin left playing, and went to fetch his mistress; But by the way he met with a fruiterer's wife: There Jenkin and she fell at such strife For snatching of an apple, that down he cast Her basket, and gathered up the apples fast, And put them in his sleeve, then came he his way By another lane, as fast as he may; Till he came at a corner by a shop's stall, Where boys were at dice, faring at all; When Careaway with that good company met, He fell to faring withouten let, Forgetting his message, and so did he fare, That when I came by, he gan swear and stare, And full bitterly began to curse, As one that had lost almost all in his purse. For I know his old guise and condition, Never to leave, till all his money be gone. For he hath no money but what he doth steal, And that woll he play away every deal. I passed by, and then called unto my mind Certain old reckonings, that were behind Between Jenkin and me, whom partly to recompense I trust by God's grace, ere I go hence. This garments, cape, and all other gear, That now you see upon me here, I have done on all like unto his For the nonce; and my purpose is To make Jenkin believe, if I can, That he is not himself, but another man. For except he hath better luck than he had, He woll come hither stark staring mad. When he shall come, I woll handle my captive so, That he shall not well wot whither to go. His mistress, I know, she woll him blame, And his master also will do the same; Because that she of her supper deceived is, For I am sure they have all supped by this. But, and if Jenkin would hither resort, I trust he and I should make some sport, If I had sooner spoken, he would have sooner been here, For me seemeth I do his voice hear.

CAREAWAY. All, sir, I may say I have been at a feast: I have lost two shillings and sixpence at the least. Marry, sir, of this gains I need make no boast; But, the devil go with all, more have I lost! My name is Careaway, let all sorrow pass! I woll ere to-morrow night be as rich as ever I was; Or at the furthest within a day or twain: My master's purse shall pay me again. Therefore ho! Careaway, now woll I sing hei, hei! But, by the Lord, now I remember another thing: By my faith, Jenkin, my mistress and thou Are like to agree—God knoweth how— That thou comest not for her incontinent, To bring her to supper, when thou were sent? And now they have all supped, thou wolt surely abi', Except thou imagine some pretty and crafty lie. For she is, as all other women be, A very cursed shrew, by the blessed Trinity, And a very devil, for if she once begin To fight or chide, in a week she woll not lin; And a great pleasure she hath specially now of late To get poor me now and then by the pate; For she is an angry piece of flesh, and soon displeased, Quickly moved, but not lightly appeased. We use to call her at home Dame Coy, A pretty gingerly piece, God save her and St Loy! As dainty and nice as an halfpenny-worth of silver spoons, But vengeable melancholy in the afternoons. She useth for her bodily health and safeguard To chide daily one fit to supperward; And my master himself is worse than she, If he once thoroughly angered be. And a maid we have at home, Alison Trip-and-go: Not all London can show such other two: She simpereth, she pranketh, and jetteth without fail, As a peacock that hath spread and showeth her gay tail: She minceth, she bridleth, she swimmeth to and fro: She treadeth not one hair awry, she trippeth like a doe Abroad in the street, going or coming homeward: She quavereth and warbleth, like one in a galliard, Every joint in her body and every part: O, it is a jolly wench to mince and divide a fart. She talketh, she chatteth like a pie all day, And speaketh like a parrot popinjay, And that as fine as a small silken thread, Yea, and as high as an eagle can fly for a need. But it is a spiteful lying girl, and never well, But when she may some ill tale by me tell; She woll, I warrant you, anon at the first Of me imagine and say the worst, And whatsoever she to my mistress doth say, It is written in the gospel of the same day. Therefore I woll here with myself devise What I may best say, and in what wise I may excuse this my long tarrying, That she of my negligence may suspect nothing. For if the fault of this be found in me, I may give my life for halfpennies three. [Hic cogitabundo similis sedeat.] Let me study this month, and I shall not find A better device than now is come to my mind. Mistress, woll I say, I am bound by my duty To see that your womanhood have no injury; For I hear and see more than you now and then, And yourself partly know the wanton wiles of men. When we came yonder, there did I see My master kiss gentlewomen two or three, And to come among others me-thought I see,[177] He had a marvellous great phantasy: Anon he commanded me to run thence for you, To come sup there, if you would; but (I wot not how) My heart grudged, mistrusting lest that I, being away, My master would some light cast play; Whereupon, mistress, to see the end, I tarried half supper-time, so God me mend! And, besides that there was such other company As I know your mistress-ship setteth nothing by; Gorgeous dames of the court and gallants also, With doctors and other rufflers mo: At last when I thought it time and season, I came to certify you, as it was reason; And by the way whom should I meet But that most honest gentleman in the street, Which the last week was with you here, And made you a banket and bouncing cheer? Ah, Jenkin, quod he, good speed! how farest thou? Marry, well, God yield it you, master, quod I: how do you? How doth thy mistress? is she at home? Yea, sir, quod I, and suppeth all alone; And but she hath no manner good cheer, I am sure she would gladly have you there. I cannot come now, said he, I have business; But thou shalt carry a token from me to thy mistress. Go with me to my chamber at yon lane-end, And I woll a dish of costards unto her send. I followed him, and was bold, by your leave, To receive and bring them here in my sleeve. But I would not for all England, by Jesus Christ, That my master Bongrace hereof wist, Or knew that I should any such gear to you bring, Lest he misdeem us both in some worse thing; Nor show him nothing of that I before said, For then indeed, sir, I am arrayed:[178] If you do, I may nothing hereafter unto you tell, Whether I see my master do ill or well. But[179] if you now this counsel keep, I woll ease you perchance twice in a week; You may say you were sick, and your head did ache: That you lusted not this night any supper make, Specially without the doors; but thought it best To abide at home and take your rest; And I will to my master to bring him home, For you know he woll be angry, if he come alone. This woll I say and face it so well, That she shall believe it every deal. How say you, friends, by the arms of Robin Hood, Woll not this excuse be reasonable good? To muse for any better great folly it is; For I may make sure reckoning of this That, and if I would sit stewing this seven year, I shall not else find how to save me all clear. And, as you see, for the most part our wits be best, When we be taken most unreadiest. But I woll not give for that boy a fly, That hath not all times in store one good lie, And cannot set a good face upon the same: Therefore Saint George thee borrow, as it woll let him frame. I woll jeopard a joint, be as be may, I have had many like chances before this day; But I promise you I do curstly fear; For I feel a vengeable burning in my left ear; And it hath been a saying of time long, That sweet meat woll have sour sauce among; And surely I shall have some ill hap, For my hair standeth up under my cap. I would knock, but I dare not, by our lady, I fear hanging, whereunto no man is hasty. But seeing there is no nother remedy, Thus to stand any longer it is but folly. [Hic pulset ostium. They be so far within, they cannot hear—

JACK JUGGLER. Soft thy knocking, saucy knave, what makest thou there?

JENKIN CAREAWAY. What knave is that? he speaketh not to me, I trow, And we meet, the one of us is like to have a blow! For now that I am well chafed, and somewhat hot, Twenty such could I hew as small as flesh to pot; And surely, if I had a knife, This knave should escape hardly with his life: To teach him to ask of me any more, What I make at my own master's door.

JACK JUGGLER. But if thou come from that gate, thou knave, I well fet thee by the sweet locks,[180] so God me save!

JENKIN CAREAWAY. Woll the whoreson fight indeed, by mine honesty? I know no quarrel he hath to me; But I would I were within the house, And then I would not set by him a louse; For I fear and mistrust such quarreling thieves: See, how he beginneth to strike up his sleeves!

JACK JUGGLER. His arse maketh buttons now, and who lusteth to feel, Shall find his heart creeping out at his heel, Or else lying hidden in some corner of his hose, If it be not already dropped out of his nose. For, as I doubt not but you have heard beforne, A more dastard coward knave was never born.

JENKIN CAREAWAY. The devil set the house a-fire! I trow it is accurst; When a man hath most haste, he speedeth worst; If I be robbed or slain, or any harm get, The fault is in them, that doth not me in let. And I durst jeopard an hundred pound, That some bawdry might now within be found; But except some of them come the sooner, I shall knock such a peal, that all England shall wonder.

JACK JUGGLER. Knock at the gate hardily again, if thou dare; And seeing thou wolt not by fair words beware, Now, fists, me-thinketh, yesterday seven past, That four men asleep at my feet you cast, And this same day you did no manner good, Nor were not washen in warm blood.

JENKIN CAREAWAY. What whoreson is this that washeth in warm blood? Some devil broken loose out of hell for wood! Four hath he slain, and now well I see, That it must be my chance the fifth to be! But rather than thus shamefully to be slain, Would Christ my friends had hanged me, being but years twain! And yet, if I take good heart and be bold, Percase he woll be more sober and cold.

JACK JUGGLER. Now, hands, bestir you about his lips and face, And strike out all his teeth without any grace! Gentleman, are you disposed to eat any fist-meat?

JENKIN CAREAWAY. I have supped, I thank you, sir, and list not to eat: Give it to them that are hungry, if you be wise.

JACK JUGGLER. It[181] shall do a man of your diet no harm to sup twice: This shall be your cheese to make your meat digest, For I tell you these hands weigheth of the best.

JENKIN CAREAWAY. I shall never escape: see, how he waggeth his hands!

JACK JUGGLER. With a stroke they will lay a knave in our Lady-bonds,[182] And this day yet they have done no good at all.

JENKIN CAREAWAY. Ere thou essay them on me, I pray thee lame them on the wall— But speak you all this in earnest or in game?— If you be angry with me, truly you are to blame; For have you any just quarrel to me?

JACK JUGGLER. Ere thou and I part, that woll I show thee—

JENKIN CAREAWAY. Or have I done you any manner displeasure?—

JACK JUGGLER. Ere thou and I part, thou shalt know, thou mayest be sure—

JENKIN CAREAWAY. By my faith, if you be angry without a cause, You shall have amends made with a couple of straws; By thee I set whatsoever thou art; But for thy displeasure I care not a fart. May a man demand whose servant you be?

JACK JUGGLER. My master's servant I am, for verity!

JENKIN CAREAWAY. What business have you at this place now?

JACK JUGGLER. Nay, marry, tell me what business hast thou? For I am commanded for to watch and give diligence That, in my good Master Bongrace's absence, No misfortune may happen to his house, certain.

JENKIN CAREAWAY. Well now I am come, you may go hence again, And thank them that so much for my master hath done: Showing them that the servants of the house be come home, For I am of the house, and now in woll I go.

JACK JUGGLER. I cannot tell whether thou be of the house or no; But go no near,[183] lest I handle thee like a stranger; Thank no man but thyself, if thou be in any danger.

JENKIN CAREAWAY. Marry, I defy thee, and plainly unto thee tell, That I am a servant of this house, and here I dwell.

JACK JUGGLER. Now, so God me snatch, but thou go thy ways, While thou mayest, for this forty days I shall make thee not able to go nor ride But in a dung-cart or wheelbarrow lying on one side.

JENKIN CAREAWAY. I am a servant of this house, by these ten bones—[184]

JACK JUGGLER. No more prating, but get thee hence at once!

JENKIN CAREAWAY. Why, my master hath sent me home in[185] his message—

JACK JUGGLER. Pick and walk, a knave, here away is no passage—

JENKIN CAREAWAY. What, wilt thou let me from mine own master's house?

JACK JUGGLER. Be tredging, or in faith you bear me a souse.[186] Here my master and I have our habitation, And hath continually dwelled in this mansion, At the least this dozen years and odd; And here woll we end our lives, by the grace of God.

JENKIN CAREAWAY. Why, then, where shall my master and I dwell?

JACK JUGGLER. At the devil, if you lust: I cannot tell.

JENKIN CAREAWAY. In nomine patris, now this gear doth pass: For a little before supper here our house was; And this day in the morning I woll on a book swear, That my master and I both dwelled here.

JACK JUGGLER. Who is thy master? tell me without lie, And thine own name also let me know shortly; For, my masters all, let me have the blame, If this knave know his master or his own name.

CAREAWAY. My master's name is Master Bongrace: I have dwelled with him a long space; And I am Jenkin Careaway his page—

JACK JUGGLER. What, ye drunken knave, begin you to rage! Take that: art thou Master Bongrace's page? [Strikes him.

CAREAWAY. It I be not, I have made a very good voyage—

JACK JUGGLER. Barest thou to my face say thou art I?

CAREAWAY. I would it were true and no lie; For then thou shouldest smart, and I should bet,[187] Where as now I do all the blows get.

JACK JUGGLER. And is Master Bongrace thy master, doest you then say?

CAREAWAY. I woll swear on a book, he was once this day—

JACK JUGGLER. And for that thou shalt somewhat have, Because thou presumest, like a saucy lying knave, To say my master is thine. Who is thy master now? [Strikes him again.

CAREAWAY. By my troth, sir, whosoever please you: I am your own, for you beat me so, As no man but my master should do.

JACK JUGGLER. I woll handle thee better, if fault be not in fist— [Prepares to strike him.

CAREAWAY. Help! save my life, masters, for the passion of Christ!

JACK JUGGLER. Why, thou lousy thief, dost thou cry and roar?—

CAREAWAY. No, faith, I woll not cry one whit more: Save my life, help, or I am slain—

JACK JUGGLER. Yea, dost thou make a rumouring yet again? Did not I bid thee hold thy peace?—

CAREAWAY. In faith, now I leave crying; now I cease: help, help!

JACK JUGGLER. Who is thy master?

CAREAWAY. Master Bongrace—

JACK JUGGLER. I woll make thee change that song, ere we pass this place; For he is my master, and again to thee I say, That I am his Jenkin Careaway. Who art thou? now tell me plain.

CAREAWAY. Nobody but whom please you, certain—

JACK JUGGLER. Thou saidest even now thy name was Careaway?

CAREAWAY. I cry you mercy, sir, and forgiveness pray: I said amiss, because it was so to-day; And thought it should have continued alway, Like a fool as I am and a drunken knave. But in faith, sir, ye see all the wit I have, Therefore I beseech you do me no more blame, But give me a new master and another name. For it would grieve my heart, so help me God, To run about the streets like a masterless nod.[188]

JACK JUGGLER. I am he that thou saidest thou were, And Master Bongrace is my master, that dwelleth here; Thou art no point, Careaway; thy wits do thee fail.

CAREAWAY. Yea, marry, sir, you have beaten them down into my tail; But, sir, might I be bold to say one thing Without any blows and without any beating?

JACK JUGGLER. Truce for a while; say on what thee lust:

CAREAWAY. May a man to your honesty by your word trust? I pray you swear by the mass you woll do me no ill—

JACK JUGGLER. By my faith, I promise pardon thee I will—

CAREAWAY. What, and you keep no promise?

JACK JUGGLER. Then upon Careaway[189] I pray God light as much or more as hath on thee to-day.

CAREAWAY. Now dare I speak, so mote I the, Master Bongrace is my master, and the name of me Is Jenkin Careaway!

JACK JUGGLER. What, sayest thou so?

CAREAWAY. And if thou wilt strike me, and break thy promise, do, And beat on me, till I stink, and till I die; And yet woll I still say that I am I!

JACK JUGGLER. This Bedlam knave without doubt is mad—

CAREAWAY. No, by God, for all that I am a wise lad, And can call to remembrance every thing That I did this day sith my uprising; For went not I with my master to-day Early in the morning to the tennis-play? At noon, while my master at his dinner sat, Played not I at dice at the gentleman's gate? Did not I wait on my master to supper-ward? And I think I was not changed the way homeward! Or else, if thou think I lie, Ask in the street of them that I came by; And sith that I came hither into your presence, What man living could carry me hence? I remember I was sent to fetch my mistress, And what I devised to save me harmless; Do not I speak now? [is] not this my hand? Be not these my feet that on this ground stand? Did not this other knave here knock me about the head? And beat me, till I was almost dead? How may it then be, that he should be I? Or I not myself?—it is a shameful lie. I woll home to our house, whosoever say nay, For surely my name is Jenkin Careaway.

JACK JUGGLER. I woll make thee say otherwise, ere we depart, if we can—

JENKIN CAREAWAY. Nay that woll I not in faith for no man, Except thou tell me what thou hast done[190] Ever sith five of the clock this afternoon: Rehearse me all that without any lie, And then I woll confess that thou art I.

JACK JUGGLER. When my master came to the gentleman's place, He commanded me to run home a great pace, To fet thither my mistress; and by the way I did a good while at the bucklers play; Then came I by a wife, that did costards sell, And cast down her basket fair and well, And gathered as many as I could get, And put them in my sleeve: here they be yet!

CAREAWAY. How the devil should they come there, For I did them all in my own sleeve bear? He lieth not a word in all this, Nor doth in any one point miss. For ought I see yet between earnest and game I must go seek me another name; But thou mightest see all this:—tell the rest that is behind, And there I know I shall thee a liar find.

JACK JUGGLER. I ran thence homeward a contrary way, And whether I stopped there or nay, I could tell, if me lusteth, a good token; But it may not very well be spoken.

JENKIN CAREAWAY. Now, may I pray thee, let no man that hear, But tell it me privily in mine ear.

JACK JUGGLER. Ay, thou lost all thy money at dice, Christ give it his curse, Well and truly picked before out of another man's purse!

JENKIN CAREAWAY. God's body, whoreson thief, who told thee that same? Some cunning devil is within thee, pain of shame! In nomine patris, God and our blessed lady, Now and evermore save me from thy company!

JACK JUGGLER. How now, art thou Careaway or not?

CAREAWAY. By the Lord, I doubt, but sayest thou nay to that?

JACK JUGGLER. Yea, marry, I tell thee, Care-away is my name.

CAREAWAY. And, by these ten bones, mine is the same! Or else tell me, if I be not he, What my name from henceforth shall be?

JACK JUGGLER. By my faith, the same that it was before, When I lust to be Careaway no more: Look well upon me, and thou shalt see as now, That I am Jenkin Careaway, and not thou: Look well upon me, and by every thing Thou shalt well know that I am not lesing.

CAREAWAY. I see it is so without any doubt; But how the devil came it about? Whoso in England looketh on him steadily, Shall perceive plainly that he is I: I have seen myself a thousand times in a glass; But so like myself, as he is, never was; He hath in every point my clothing and my gear; My head, my cap, my shirt, and knotted hair, And of the same colour: my eyes, nose, and lips: My cheeks, chin, neck, feet, legs, and hips: Of the same stature, and height, and age: And is in every point Master Bongrace page, That if he have a hole in his tail, He is even I mine own self without any fail! And yet when I remember, I wot not how, The same man that I have ever been me thinketh I am now: I know my master and his house, and my five wits I have: Why then should I give credence to this foolish knave, That nothing intendeth but me delude and mock? For whom should I fear at my master's gate to knock?

JACK JUGGLER. Thinkest thou I have said all this in game? Go, or I shall send thee hence in the devil's name! Avoid, thou lousy lurden and precious stinking slave, That neither thy name knowest nor canst any master have! Wine-shaken pillory-peeper,[191] of lice not without a peck, Hence, or by Gods precious,[192] I shall break thy neck!

CAREAWAY. Then, master, I beseech you heartily take the pain, If I be found in any place, to bring me to me again. Now is not this a wonderful case, That no man shall lese himself so in any place? Have any of you heard of such a thing heretofore? No, nor never shall, I daresay, from henceforth any more.

JACK JUGGLER [Aside.] While he museth and judgeth himself upon, I will steal away for a while, and let him alone. [Exit Jack Juggler.

CAREAWAY. Good Lord of heaven, where did I myself leave? Or who did me of my name by the way bereave? For I am sure of this in my mind, That I did in no place leave myself behind. If I had my name played away at dice, Or had sold myself to any man at a price, Or had made a fray, and had lost it in fighting, Or it had been stolen from me sleeping, It had been a matter, and I would have kept patience; But it spiteth my heart to have lost it by such open negligence. Ah, thou whoreson, drowsy, drunken sot! It were an alms-deed to walk[193] thy coat, And I shrew him that would for thee be sorry, To see thee well curried by and by; And, by Christ, if any man would it do, I myself would help thereto. For a man may see, thou whoreson goose, Thou wouldest lese thine arse, if it were loose! Albeit I would never the deed believe, But that the thing itself doth show and preve.[194] There was never ape so like unto an ape, As he is to me in feature and shape; But what woll my master say, trow ye, When he shall this gear hear and see? Will he know me, think you, when he shall see me? If he do not, another woll as good as he. But where is that other I? whither is he gone? To my master, by Cock's precious passion: Either to put me out of my place, Or to accuse me to my master Bongrace! But I woll after, as fast as I can flee: I trust to be there as soon as he. That if my master be not ready home to come, I woll be here again as fast as I can run. In any wise to speak with my mistress, Or else I shall never escape hanging doubtless.

DAME COY. I shall not sup this night, full well I see; For as yet nobody cometh for to fet me. But good enough, let me alone: I woll be even with them every-chone. I say nothing, but I think somewhat, i-wis: Some there be that shall hear of this! Of all unkind and churlish husbands this is the cast, To let their wives sit at home and fast; While they be forth, and make good cheer: Pastime and sport, as now he doth there. But if I were a wise woman, as I am a mome, I should make myself, as good cheer at home. But if he have thus unkindly served me, I woll not forget it this months three; And if I wist the fault were in him, I pray God I be dead, But he should have such a curry,[195] ere he went to bed, As he never had before in all his life, Nor any man else have had of his wife! I would rate him and shake him after such a sort, As should be to him a corrosive full little to his comfort!

ALLISON TRIP-AND-GO. If I may be so bold, by your mistress-ship's license, As to speak and show my mind and sentence, I think of this you may the boy thank; For I know that he playeth you many a like prank, And that would you say, if you knew as much as we, That his daily conversation and behaviour see; For if you command him to go speak with some one, It is an hour, ere he woll be gone; Then woll he run forth, and play in the street, And come again, and say that he cannot with him meet.

DAME COY. Nay, nay, it is his master's play: He serveth me so almost every third day; But I woll be even with him, as God give me joy, And yet the fault may be in the boy— As ungracious a graft, so mot I thrive, As any goeth on God's ground alive!

CAREAWAY. My wit is breeched in such a brake, That I cannot devise what way is best to take. I was almost as far as my master is; But then I began to remember this, And to cast the worst, as one in fear: If he chance to see me and keep me there, Till he come himself, and speak with my mistress, Then am I like to be in shrewd distress: Yet were I better, thought I, to turn home again. And first speak with her, certain— Cock's body, yonder she standeth at the door! Now is it worse than it was before. Would Christ I could get again out of her sight: For I see by her look she is disposed to fight. By the Lord, she hath there an angry shrew's look—

DAME COY. Lo, yonder cometh that unhappy hook!

CAREAWAY. God save me, mistress, do you know me well?

DAME COY. Come near[196] hither unto me, and I shall thee tell Why, thou naughty villain, is that thy guise, To jest with thy mistress in such wise? Take that to begin with, and God before! When thy master cometh home, thou shalt have more: For he told me, when he forth went, That thou shouldest come back again incontinent To bring me to supper where he now is, And thou hast played by the way, and they have done by this. But no force I shall, thou mayest trust me, Teach all naughty knaves to beware by thee.

CAREAWAY. Forsooth, mistress, if ye knew as much as I, Ye would not be with me half so angry; For the fault is neither in my master, nor in me, nor you, But in another knave that was here even now, And his name was Jenkin Careaway—

DAME COY. What, I see my man is disposed to play! I ween he be drunken or mad, I make God a vow!

CAREAWAY. Nay, I have been made sober and tame, I, now:— I was never so handled before in all my life: I would every man in England had so beaten[197] his wife! I have forgotten with tousing by the hair, What I devised to say a little ere.

DAME COY. Have I lost my supper this night through thy negligence?

CAREAWAY. Nay then were I a knave, mistress, saving your reverence.

DAME COY. Why, I am sure that by this time it is done—

CAREAWAY. Yea, that it is more than an hour agone—

DAME COY. And was not thou sent to fetch me thither?

CAREAWAY. Yea, and had come right quickly hither, But that by the way I had a great fall, And my name, body, shape, legs, and all: And met with one, that from me did it steal; But, by God, he and I some blows did deal! I would he were now before your gate, For you would pummel him jollily about the pate.

DAME COY. Truly this wage-pasty[198] is either drunken or mad.

CAREAWAY. Never man suffered so much wrong as I had; But, mistress, I should say a thing to you: Tarry, it woll come to my remembrance even now I must needs use a substantial premeditation; For the matter lieth greatly me upon. I beseech your mistress-ship of pardon and forgiveness, Desiring you to impute it to my simple and rude dulness: I have forgotten what I had[199] thought to have said And am thereof full ill-afraid; But when I lost myself, I knew very well, I lost also that I should you tell.

DAME COY. Why, thou wretched villain, doest thou me scorn and mock, To make me to these folk a laughing-stock? Ere thou go out of my hands, thou shalt have something; And I woll reckon better in the morning.

CAREAWAY. And if you beat me, mistress, avise you; For I am none of your servants now. That other I is now your page, And I am no longer in your bondage.

DAME COY. Now walk, precious thief, get thee out of my sight! And I charge thee come in my presence no more this night: Get thee hence, and wait on thy master at once.

CAREAWAY. Marry, sir, this is handling for the nonce: I would I had been hanged, before that I was lost; I was never this[200] canvassed and tossed: That if my master, on his part also, Handle me, as my mistress and the other I[201] do, I shall surely be killed between them three, And all the devils in hell shall not save me. But yet, if the other I might have with me part, All this would never grieve my heart.

[Enter Jack Juggler.

JACK JUGGLER. How say you, masters, I pray you tell, Have not I requited my merchant well? Have not I handled him after a good sort? Had it not been pity to have lost this sport? Anon his master, on his behalf, You shall see how he woll handle the calf! If he throughly angered be, He woll make him smart, so mot I the. I would not for a price of a new pair of shone, That any part of this had been undone; But now I have revenged my quarrel, I woll go do off this mine apparel, And now let Careaway be Careaway again; I have done with that name now, certain, Except peraventure I shall take the self-same weed Some other time again for a like cause and need.

[Enter Bongrace and Careaway.

BONGRACE. Why, then, darest thou to presume to tell me, That I know is no wise possible for to be?

CAREAWAY. Now, by my truth, master, I have told you no lie; And all these folks knoweth as well as I, I had no sooner knocked at the gate, But straightway he had me by the pate; Therefore, if you beat me, till I fart and shit again, You shall not cause me for any pain; But I woll affirm, as I said before, That when I came near, another stood at the door.

BONGRACE. Why, thou naughty villain, darest thou affirm to me That which was never seen nor hereafter shall be? That one man may have two bodies and two faces, And that one man at one time may be in two places? Tell me, drankest thou anywhere by the way?

CAREAWAY. I shrew me, if I drank any more than twice to-day, Till I met even now with that other I, And with him I supped and drank truly; But as for you, if you gave me drink and meat, As oftentimes as you do me beat, I were the best-fed page in all this city. But, as touching that, you have on me no pity, And not only I, but all that do you serve, For meat and drink may rather starve.

BONGRACE. What, you saucy malapert knave, Begin you with your master to prate and rave? Your tongue is liberal and all out of frame: I must needs conjure it, and make it tame. Where is that other Careaway that thou said was here?

CAREAWAY. Now, by my Christendom, sir, I wot ne'er?

BONGRACE. Why, canst thou find no man to mock but me?

CAREAWAY. I mock you not, master, so mot I the, Every word was true that I you told.

BONGRACE. Nay I know toys and pranks of old, And now thou art not satisfied nor content, Without regard of my biddings and commandment, To have played by the way as a lewd knave and negligent, When I thee on my message home sent, But also wouldest willingly me delude and mock, And make me to all wise men a laughing-stock: Showing me such things as in no wise be may, To the intent thy lewdness may turn to jest and play; Therefore if thou speak any such thing to me again, I promise it shall be unto thy pain.

CAREAWAY. Lo, is not he in miserable case, That serveth such a master in any place? That with force woll compel him that thing to deny, That he knoweth true, and hath seen with his eye?

BONGRACE. Was it not, trowest thou, thine own shadow?

CAREAWAY. My shadow could never have beaten me so!

BONGRACE. Why, by what reason possible may such a thing be?

CAREAWAY. Nay, I marvel and wonder at it more than ye; And at the first it did me curstly meve[202] Nor I would mine own eyes in no wise believe, Until that other I beat me so, That he made me believe it, whether I would or no. And if he had yourself now within his reach, He would make you say so too, or else beshit your breech.

MASTER BONGRACE. I durst a good meed and a wager lay, That thou layest down and slepst by the way, And dreamed all this, that thou hast me told.

CAREAWAY. Nay, there you lie, master, if I might be so bold; But we rise so early that, if I had, I had done well, and a wise lad. Yet, master, I would you understood, That I have always been trusty and good, And fly as fast as a bear in a cage, Whensoever you send me in your message; In faith, as for this that I have told you, I saw and felt it as waking as I am now: For I had no sooner knocked at the gate, But the other I knave had me by the pate; And I durst to you on a book swear, That he had been watching for me there, Long ere I came, hidden in some privy place, Even for the nonce to have me by the face.

MASTER BONGRACE. Why, then, thou spakest not with my wife?

CAREAWAY. No, that I did not, master, by my life, Until that other I was gone, And then my mistress sent me after anon, To wait on you home in the devil's name: I ween the devil never so beat his dame!

MASTER BONGRACE. And where became that other Careaway?

CAREAWAY. By mine honesty, sir, I cannot say; But I warrant he is now not far hence; He is here among this company, for forty pence.

MASTER BONGRACE. Hence, at once seek and smell him out; I shall rap thee on the lying knave's snout: I woll not be deluded with such a glossing lie, Nor give credence, till I see it with my own eye.

CAREAWAY. Truly, good sir, by your mastership's favour, I cannot well find a knave by the savour; Many here smell strong, but none so rank as he: A stronger-scented knave than he was cannot be. But, sir, if he be haply found anon, What amends shall I have for that you have me done?

MASTER BONGRACE. If he may be found, I shall walk his coat.

CAREAWAY. Yea, for our lady's sake, sir, I beseech you spare him not, For it is some false knave withouten doubt. I had rather than forty pence we could find him out; For, if a man may believe a glass, Even my very own self it was. And here he was but even right now, And stepped away suddenly, I wot not how. Of such another thing I have neither heard ne seen, By our blessed lady, heaven queen!

MASTER BONGRACE. Plainly it was thy shadow, that thou didst see; For, in faith, the other thing is not possible to be.

CAREAWAY. Yes, in good faith, sir, by your leave, I know it was I by my apples in my sleeve, And speaketh as like me as ever you heard:[203] Such hair, such a cap, such hose and coat, And in everything as just as fourpence to a groat. That if he were here, you should well see, That you could not discern nor know him from me; For think you, that I do not myself know? I am not so foolish a knave, I trow. Let who woll look him by and by, And he woll depose upon a book that he is I; And I dare well say you woll say the same; For he called himself by my own name. And he told me all that I have done, Sith five of the clock this afternoon, He could tell when you were to supper set [When] you send me home my mistress to fet, And showed me all things that I did by the way—

BONGRACE. What was that?

CAREAWAY. How I did at the bucklers play; And when I scattered a basket of apples from a stall, And gathered them into my sleeve all, And how I played after that also—

BONGRACE. Thou shalt have, boy, therefore,[204] so mote I go; Is that the guise of a trusty page, To play, when he is sent on his master's message?

DAME COY. Lay on and spare not, for the love of Christ, Joll his head to a post,[205] and favour your fist! Now for my sake, sweetheart, spare and favour your hand, And lay him about the ribs with this wand.

CAREAWAY. Now mercy that I ask of you both twain: Save my life, and let me not be slain. I have had beating enough for one day: That a mischief take the other-me Careaway! That if ever he come to my hands again, I-wis it shall be to his pain. But I marvel greatly, by our Lord Jesus, How he-I escaped, I-me beat me thus. And is not he-I an unkind knave, That woll no more pity on myself have? Here may you see evidently, i-wis, That in him-me no drop of honesty is. Now a vengeance light on such a churlish knave That no more love toward myself have!

DAME COY. I knew very,[206] sweet-heart, and said right now, That no fault thereof should be in you.

BONGRACE. No, truly, good bedfellow, I were then much unkind, If you at any time should be out of my mind.

DAME COY. Surely, I have of you a great treasure, For you do all things which may be to my pleasure.

BONGRACE. I am sorry that your chance hath now been so ill: I would gladly been unsupped, so you had your fill; But go we in, pigsnie, that you may sup; You have cause now to thank this same hang-up; For had not he been, you had fared very well.

DAME COY. I bequeath him with a hot vengeance to the devil of hell, And heartily I beseech him that hanged on the rood, That he never eat nor drink that may do him good, And that he die a shameful death, saving my charity!

CAREAWAY. I pray God send him such prosperity, That hath caused me to have all this business. But yet, sirs, you see the charity of my mistress: She liveth after a wonderful charitable fashion; For I assure you she is always in this passion, And scarcely one day throughout the whole year She woll wish any man better cheer, And some time, if she well-angered be, I pray God (woll she say) the house may sink under me! But, masters, if you happen to see that other I, As that you shall, it is not very likely, Nor I woll not desire you for him purposely to look, For it is an uncomparable unhappy hook; And if it be I, you might happen to seek, And not find me out in an whole week. For when I was wont to run away, I used not to come again in less than a month or tway: Howbeit, for all this I think it be not I; For, to show the matter indeed truly, I never use to run away in winter nor in vere,[207] But always in such time and season of the year, When honey lieth in the hives of bees, And all manner fruit falleth from the trees: As apples, nuts, pears, and plums also, Whereby a boy may live abroad a month or two. This cast do I use, I woll not with you feign; Therefore I wonder if he be I, certain. But, and if he be, and you meet me abroad by chance, Send me home to my master with a vengeance! And show him, if he come not here to-morrow night, I woll never receive him again, if I might; And in the meantime I woll give him a groat, That woll well and thriftily walk his coat; For a more ungracious knave is not even now Between this place and Calicow.[208] Nor a more frantic-mad knave in Bedlam, Nor a more fool hence to Jerusalem. That if to come again percase he shall refuse, I woll continue as I am, and let him choose; And but he come the sooner, by our lady bright, He shall lie without the doors all night. For I woll shit[209] up the gate, and get me to-bed, For I promise you I have a very giddy head. I need no supper for this night, Nor would eat no meat, though I might; And for you also, master, I think it[210] best You go to-bed, and take your rest. For who of you had been handled as I have been, Would not be long out of his bed, I ween; No more woll I, but steal out of sight: I pray God give you all good night! And send you better hap and fortune, Than to lese yourself homeward as I have done.

[Exit Careaway.

Somewhat it was, saith the proverb old, That the cat winked when her eye was out, That is to say, no tale can be told, But that some English may be picked thereof out If so to search the Latin and ground of it men will go about, As this trifling enterlude that before you hath been rehearsed, May signify some further meaning, if it be well searched.

Such is the fashion of the world now-a-days, That the simple innocents are deluded, And an hundred thousand divers ways By subtle and crafty means shamefully abused, And by strength, force, and violence ofttimes compelled To believe and say the moon is made of a green cheese Or else have great harm, and percase their life lese.

And an old saying it is, that most times might, Force, strength, power, and colourable subtlety Doth oppress, debar, overcome, and defeat right, Though the cause stand never so greatly against equity, And the truth thereof be knowen for never so perfit certainty: Yea, and the poor simple innocent that hath had wrong and injury, Must call the other his good master for showing him such mercy.

And as it is daily seen, for fear of further disprofit, He must that man his best friend and master call, Of whom he never received any manner benefit, And at whose hand he never han any good at all; And must grant, affirm, or deny, whatsoever he shall He must say the crow is white, if he be so commanded, Yea, and that he himself is into another body changed.

He must say he did amiss, though he never did offend; He must ask forgiveness, where he did no trespass, Or else be in trouble, care, and misery without end, And be cast in some arrearage without any grace; And that thing he saw done before his own face He must by compulsion stiffly deny, And for fear, whether he woll or not, say tongue, you lie!

And in every faculty this thing is put in ure, And is so universal that I need no one to name, And, as I fear, is like evermore to endure; For it is in all faculties a common sport and game, The weaker to say as the stronger biddeth, or to have blame, As a cunning sophist woll by argument bring to pass, That the rude shall confess, and grant himself an ass.

And this is the daily exercise and practise of their schools, And not among them only, but also among all others: The stronger to compel, and make poor simple fools To say as they command them in all manner matters. I woll name none particular, but set them all together Without any exception; for I pray you show me one Amongst all in the world that seeth not such fashion.

He that is stronger and more of power and might, If he be disposed to revenge his cause, Woll soon pick a quarrel, be it wrong or right, To the inferior and weaker for a couple of straws, And woll against him so extremely lay the laws, That he woll put him to the worse, either by false injury, Or by some craft and subtlety, or else by plain tyranny.

As you saw right now by example plain Another fellow, being a counterfeit page, Brought the gentleman's servant out of his brain, And made him grant that himself was fallen in dotage Bearing himself in hand that he did rage, And when he could not bring that to pass by reason, He made him grant it, and say by compulsion.

Therefore happy are they, that can beware Into whose hands they fall by any such chance; Which if they do, they hardly escape care, Trouble, misery, and woeful grievance, And thus I make an end, committing you to his guidance, That made and redeemed us all, and to you that be now here I pray God grant and send many a good new year!



[Of this interlude only two copies have hitherto been discovered, one in the Devonshire collection, the second in the King's Library, British Museum, from the Roxburghe sale. An account of the piece, which has never been reprinted before, is given by Collier ("History of Dramatic Poetry," ii. 381-3). Considering its rarity, early date, and curiosity, it is remarkable that "Nice Wanton" should have escaped Dodsley and his editors.]


Wherein ye may see Three branches of an ill tree: The mother and her children three, Two naught, and one godly.

Early sharp, that will be thorn, Soon ill, that will be naught: To be naught, better unborn, Better unfed than naughtily taught.

Ut magnum magnos, pueros puerilia doctus.

* * * * *


The Messenger. Barnabas. Iniquity. Ismael. Baily errand. Dalilah. Xantippe. Eulalia. Worldly Shame. Daniel the Judge.

Anno Domini, M.D.LX.


THE MESSENGER. The prudent Prince Solomon doth say, He that spareth the rod, the child doth hate, He would youth should be kept in awe alway By correction in time at reasonable rate:

To be taught to fear God, and their parents obey, To get learning and qualities, thereby to maintain An honest quiet life, correspondent alway To God's law and the king's, for it is certain,

If children be noseled[212] in idleness and ill, And brought up therein, it is hard to restrain, And draw them from natural wont evil, As here in this interlude ye shall see plain:

By two children brought up wantonly in play, Whom the mother doth excuse, when she should chastise; They delight in dalliance and mischief alway, At last they end their lives in miserable wise.

The mother persuaded by worldly shame, That she was the cause of their wretched life, So pensive, so sorrowful, for their death she became, That in despair she would sle herself with a knife.

Then her son Barnabas (by interpretation The son of comfort), her ill-purpose do[th] stay, By the scriptures he giveth her godly consolation, And so concludeth; all these parts will we play.

BARNABAS cometh.

BARNABAS. My master, in my lesson yesterday, Did recite this text of Ecclesiasticus: Man is prone to evil from his youth, did he say, Which sentence may well be verified in us. Myself, my brother, and sister Dalilah, Whom our parents to their cost to school do find. I tarry for them here, time passeth away, I lose my learning, they ever loiter behind.

If I go before, they do me threat To complain to my mother: she for their sake, Being her tender tidlings,[213] will me beat: Lord, in this perplexity, what way shall I take? What will become of them? grace God them send To apply their learning, and their manners amend!

ISMAEL and DALILAH come in singing.

Here we comen, and here we lonen,[214] And here we will abide abide-a.

BARNABAS. Fye, brother, fye, and specially you, sister Dalilah, Soberness becometh maids alway.

DALILAH. What, ye dolt, ye be ever in one song!

ISMAEL. Yea, sir, it shall cost you blows, ere it be long.

BARNABAS. Be ye not ashamed the truands to play, Losing your time and learning, and that every day? Learning bringeth knowledge of God and honest living to get.

DALILAH. Yea, marry, I warrant you, master hoddypeak.

BARNABAS. Learn apace, sister, and after to spin and sew, And other honest housewifely points to know.

ISMAEL. Spin, quod-a? yea, by the mass, and with your heels up-wind, For a good mouse-hunt is cat after Saint Kind.[215]

BARNABAS. Lewd speaking corrupteth good manners, Saint Paul doth say; Come, let us go, if ye will, to school this day; I shall be shent for tarrying so long, [Barnabas goeth out.

ISMAEL. Go, get thee hence, thy mouth full of horse-dung! Now, pretty sister, what sport shall we devise? Thus palting[216] to school, I think us unwise: In summer die for thrist,[217] in winter for cold, And still to live in fear of a churl who would?

DALILAH. Not I, by the mass, I had rather he hanged were, Than I would sit quaking like a mome for fear. I am sun-burned in summer, in winter the cold Maketh my limbs gross, and my beauty decay; If I should use it, as they would I should, I should never be fair woman, I dare say.

ISMAEL. No, sister, no, but I can tell, Where we shall have good cheer, Lusty companions two or three, At good wine, ale, and beer.

DALILAH. O good brother, let us go, I will never go more to-to[218] school. Shall I never know, What pastime meaneth? Yes, I will not be such a fool.

ISMAEL. Have with thee, Dalilah: Farewell our school! Away with books and all, [They cast away their books. I will set my heart On a merry pin, Whatever shall befall.

EULALIA. Lord, what folly is in youth! How unhappy be children now-a-days? And the more pity, to say the truth, Their parents maintain them in evil ways: Which is a great cause that the world decays, For children, brought up in idleness and play, Unthrifty and disobedient continue alway.

A neighbour of mine hath children hereby, Idle, disobedient, proud, wanton, and nice. As they come by, they do shrewd turns daily; Their parents so to suffer them surely be not wise. They laugh me to scorn, when I tell them mine advice; I will speak with their elders and warn them neighbourly: Never in better time, their mother is hereby.

[Enter Xantippe.

God save you, gossip, I am very fain, That you chance now to come this way; I long to talk with you a word or twain, I pray you take it friendly that I shall say: Ismael your son and your daughter Dalilah Do me shrewd turns daily more and more, Chide and beat my children, it grieveth me sore. They swear, curse, and scold, as they go by the way, Giving other ill ensample to do the same, To God's displeasure and their hurt another day, Chastise them for it, or else ye be to blame.

XANTIPPE. Tush, tush, if ye have no more than that to say, Ye may hold your tongue and get ye away, Alas, poor souls, they sit a-school all day In fear of a churl; and if a little they play, He beateth them like a devil; when they come home, Your mistress-ship would have me lay on. If I should beat them, so oft as men complain, By the mass, within this month I should make them lame.

EULALIA. Be not offended, I pray you, I must say more, Your son is suspect light-fingered to be: Your daughter hath nice tricks three or four; See to it in time, lest worse ye do see; He that spareth the rod, hateth the child truly. Yet Salomon sober correction doth mean, Not to beat and bounce them, to make them lame.

XANTIPPE. God thank you, mistress, I am well at ease: Such a fool to teach me, preaching as she please! Dame, ye belie them deadly, I know plain; Because they go handsomely, ye disdain.[219]

EULALIA. Then on the other[220] as well would I complain, But your other son is good, and no thanks to you! These will ye make nought, by sweet Jesu.

XANTIPPE. Gup, liar,[221] my children nought ye lie: By your malice they shall not set a fly; I have but one mome in comparison of his brother: Him the fool praiseth, and despiseth the other.

EULALIA. Well, Xantippe, better in time than too late, Seeing ye take it so, here my leave I take. [Exit.

XANTIPPE. Marry, good leave have ye, the great God be with you! My children or I be cursed, I think; They be complained on, wherever they go, That for their pleasure they might drink. Nay, by this the poor souls be come from school weary; I will go get them meat to make them merry.

INIQUITY, ISMAEL, and DALILAH come in together.

INIQUITY. Lo, lo, here I bring-a.

ISMAEL. What is she, now ye have her?

DALILAH. A lusty minion loner.[222]

INIQUITY. For no gold will I give her

ALL TOGETHER. Welcome, my honey-a!

INIQUITY. O my heart! [Here he speaketh. This wench can sing, And play her part.

DALILAH. I am yours, and you mine, with all my heart.

INIQUITY. By the mass, it is well sung; Were ye not sorry ye were a maid so long?

DALILAH. Fie, master Iniquity, fie, I am a maid yet.

ISMAEL. No, sister, no, your maidenhead is sick.

INIQUITY. That knave your brother will be a blab still, I-wis, Dalilah, ye can say as much by him, if ye will.

DALILAH. By him, quod-a? he hath whores two or three, But ich tell your minion doll,[223] by Gog's body: It skilleth not she doth hold you as much.

ISMAEL. Ye lie falsely, she will play me no such touch.

DALILAH. Not she? Yes, to do your heart good, I could tell you who putteth a bone in your hood!

ISMAEL. Peace, whore, or ye bear me a box on[224] there—

DALILAH. Here is mine ear, knave; strike, and thou dare! To suffer him thus ye be no man, If ye will not revenge me, I will find one; To set so little by me ye were not wont— Well, it is no matter; Though ye do, ceteri nolunt.

INIQUITY. Peace, Dalilah; speak ye Latin, poor fool?

DALILAH. No, no, but a proverb I learned at school—

ISMAEL. Yea, sister, you went to school, till ye were past grace;—

DALILAH. Yea, so didst thou, by thy knave's face!

INIQUITY. Well, no more a-do, let all this go, We kinsfolk must be friends, it must be so. Come on, come on, come on, [He casteth dice on the board. Here they be that will do us all good.

ISMAEL. If ye use it long, your hair will grow through your hood.

INIQUITY. Come on, knave, with Christ's curse, I must have some of the money Thou hast picked out of thy father's purse!

DALILAH. He, by the mass, if he can get his purse, Now and then he maketh it by half the worse.

ISMAEL. I defy you both, whore and knave—

INIQUITY. What, ye princocks, begin ye to rave? Come on—

DALILAH. Master Iniquity, by your leave, I will play a crown or two here by your sleeve.

ISMAEL. Then be ye servant to a worshipful man, Master Iniquity—a right name, by Saint John!

DALILAH. What can ye say by Master Iniquity? I love him and his name most heartily.

INIQUITY. God-a-mercy, Dalilah, good luck, I warrant thee, I will shrive you both by and by. [He kisseth her.

ISMAEL. Come on, but first let us have a song.

DALILAH. I am content, so that it be not long.

[Iniquity and Dalilah sing:

INIQUITY. Gold locks, She must have knocks, Or else I do her wrong.

DALILAH. When ye have your will Ye were best lie still, The winter nights be long.

INIQUITY. When I ne may, Another assay; I will take it for no wrong:

DALILAH. Then, by the rood, A bone in your hood I shall put, ere it be long.

ISMAEL. She matcheth you, sirrah!

INIQUITY. By Gog's blood, she is the best whore in England.

DALILAH. It is knavishly praised; give me your hand.

INIQUITY. I would thou hadst such another.

ISMAEL. By the mass, rather than forty pound, brother.

INIQUITY. Here, sirs, come on; seven—[They set him. Eleven[225] at all[226]—

ISMAEL. Do ye nick us?[227] beknave your noly!—

INIQUITY. Ten mine—

ISMAEL (casteth dice). Six mine, Have at it, and it were for all my father's kine. It is lost by his wounds,[228] and ten to one!

INIQUITY. Take the dice, Dalilah, cast on— [She casteth, and they set.

DALILAH. Come on; five! Thrive at fairest—

ISMAEL. Gup, whore, and I at rest [he loseth]. By Gog's blood, I ween God and the devil be against me—

INIQUITY. If th' one forsake thee, th' other will take thee!

ISMAEL. Then is he a good fellow; I would not pass,[229] So that I might bear a rule in hell, by the mass: To toss firebrands at these pennyfathers'[230] pates; I would be porter, and receive them at the gates. In boiling lead and brimstone I would seeth them each one: The knaves have all the money, good fellows have none.

DALILAH. Play, brother, have ye lost all your money now?

ISMAEL. Yea, I thank that knave and such a whore as thou. 'Tis no matter, I will have money, or I will sweat; By Gog's blood, I will rob the next I meet— Yea, and it be my father. [He goeth out.

INIQUITY. Thou boy, by the mass, ye will climb the ladder, Ah, sirrah, I love a wench that can be wily, She perceived my mind with a twink of mine eye, If we two play boody on any man, We will make him as bare as Job anon, Well, Dalilah, let see what ye have won. [They tell.

DALILAH. Sir, I had ten shillings when I begon, And here is all—every farthing.

INIQUITY. Ye lie like a whore, ye have won a pound!

DALILAH. Then the devil strike me to the ground!

INIQUITY. I will feel your pocket, by your leave, mistress—

DALILAH. Away, knave, not mine, by the mass—

INIQUITY. Yes, by God, and give you this to boot— [He giveth her a box.

DALILAH. Out, whoreson knave, I beshrew thy heart-root! Wilt thou rob me and beat me too?

INIQUITY. In the way of correction, but a blow or two!

DALILAH. Correct thy dogs, thou shalt not beat me, I will make your knave's flesh cut, I warrant thee. Ye think I have no friends; yes, I have in store A good fellow or two, perchance more. Yea, by the mass, they shall box you for this gear, A knave I found thee, a knave I leave thee here. [She goeth out.

INIQUITY. Gup, whore; do ye hear this jade? Loving, when she is pleased: When she is angry, thus shrewd: Thief, brother: sister, whore; Two graffs of an ill tree, I will tarry no longer here, Farewell, God be with ye! [He goeth out.

DALILAH cometh in ragged, her face hid, or disfigured, halting on a staff.

Alas, wretched wretch that I am, Most miserable caitiff that ever was born, Full of pain and sorrow, crooked and lorn: Stuff'd with diseases, in this world forlorn. My sinews be shrunken, my flesh eaten with pox: My bones full of ache and great pain: My head is bald, that bare yellow locks; Crooked I creep to the earth again. Mine eyesight is dim, my hands tremble and shake: My stomach abhorreth all kind of meat: For lack of clothes great cold I take, When appetite serveth, I can get no meat Where I was fair and amiable of face, Now am I foul and horrible to see; All this I have deserved for lack of grace; Justly for my sins God doth plague me.

My parents did tiddle[231] me: they were to blame; Instead of correction, in ill did me maintain: I fell to[232] naught, and shall die with shame; Yet all this is not half of my grief and pain.

The worm of my conscience, that shall never die, Accuseth me daily more and more: So oft have I sinned wilfully, That I fear to be damned evermore.


BARNABAS. What woful wight art thou, tell me, That here most grievously dost lament? Confess the truth, and I will comfort thee, By the word of God omnipotent: Although your time ye have misspent, Repent and amend, while ye have space, And God will restore you to health and grace.

DALILAH. To tell you who I am, I dare not for shame; But my filthy living hath brought me in this case, Full oft for my wantonness you did me blame; Yet to take your counsel I had not the grace. To be restored to health, alas, it is past; Disease hath brought me into such decay, Help me with your alms, while my life doth last, That, like a wretch as I am, I may go my way.

BARNABAS, Show me your name, sister, I you pray, And I will help you now at your need; Both body and soul will I feed.

DALILAH. You[233] have named me already, if I durst be so bold: Your[234] sister Dalilah, that wretch I am; My wanton nice toys ye knew of old. Alas, brother, they have brought me to this shame.

When you went to school, my brother and I would play, Swear, chide, and scold with man and woman; To do shrewd turns our delight was alway, Yet were we tiddled, and you beaten now and then.

Thus our parents let us do what we would, And you by correction they kept thee under awe: When we grew big, we were sturdy and bold; By father and mother we set not a straw,

Small matter for me; I am past; But your brother and mine is in great jeopardy: In danger to come to shame at the last, He frameth his living so wickedly.

BARNABAS. Well, sister,[235] I ever feared ye would be nought, Your lewd behaviours sore grieve[d] my heart: To train you to goodness all means have I sought, But in vain; yet will I play a brotherly part.

For the soul is more precious, most dearly bought With the blood of Christ, dying therefore: To save it first a mean must be sought At God's hand by Christ, man's only Saviour.

Consider, Dalilah, God's fatherly goodness, Which for your good hath brought you in this case. Scourged you with his rod of pure love doubtless, That, once knowing yourself, ye might call for grace.

Ye seem to repent, but I doubt whether[236] For your sins or for the misery ye be in: Earnestly repent for your sin rather, For these plagues be but the reward of sin.

But so repent that ye sin no more, And then believe with steadfast faith, That God will forgive you for evermore, For Christ's sake, as the scripture saith.

As for your body, if it be curable, I will cause to be healed, and[237] during your life I will clothe you and feed you, as I am able. Come, sister, go with me, ye have need of relief. [They go out.

DANIEL (the judge). As a judge of the country, here am I come, Sent by the king's majesty, justice to do: Chiefly to proceed in judgment of a felon: I tarry for the verdict of the quest,[238] ere I go.

[Iniquity, Baily errand, comes in; the judge sitteth down.

Go, Baily, know whether they be all agreed, or no; If they be so, bid them come away, And bring their prisoner; I would hear what they say.

[BAILY]. I go, my Lord, I go, too soon for one: He is like to play a cast will break his neck-bone. I beseech your lor'ship be good to him: The man is come of good kin. If your lordship would be so good to me, [He telleth him in his ear the rest may not hear. As for my sake to set him free, I could have twenty pound in a purse, Yea, and your lordship a right fair horse, Well worth ten pound—

DANIEL (the judge). Get thee away, thou hell-hound! If ye were well examined and tried, Perchance a false knave ye would be spied. [Iniquity goeth out; the judge speaketh still. Bribes (saith Salomon) blind the wise man's sight, That he cannot see to give judgment right. Should I be a briber?[239] nay, he shall have the law, As I owe to God and the king obedience and awe.

[They bring Ismael in, bound like a prisoner.

INIQUITY (aside). Ye be tied fair enough for running away! If ye do not after me, ye will be hanged, I dare say; If thou tell no tales, but hold thy tongue, I will set thee at liberty, ere it be long, Though thou be judged to die anon.

JUDGE (to the jury). Come on, sirs, I pray you, come on, Be you all agreed in one?

QU. Yea, my lord, everychone. [One of them speaketh for the quest.

JUDGE. Where Ismael was indicted[240] by twelve men Of felony, burglary, and murder, As the indictment declareth how, where, and when, Ye heard it read to you lately in order: You, with the rest, I trust all true men, Be charged upon your oaths to give verdit directly, Whether Ismael thereof be guilty or not guilty.

QU. Guilty, my lord, and most guilty. [One for the rest.

INIQUITY. Wilt thou hang, my lord, [this] whoreson noddy?

JUDGE (to Iniquity). Tush, hold thy tongue, and I warrant thee[241]—

JUDGE (to Ismael). The Lord have mercy upon thee! Thou shalt go to the place thou cam'st fro Till to-morrow, nine of the clock, there to remain: To the place of execution then shalt thou go, There be hanged to death, and after again, Being dead, for ensample to be hanged in a chain. Take him away, and see it be done, At your peril that may fall thereupon.

ISMAEL. Though I be judged to die, I require respite, For the king's advantage some[242] things I can recite.

INIQUITY. Away with him, he will speak but of spite—

JUDGE. Well, we will hear you say what you can, But see that ye wrongfully accuse no man.

ISMAEL. I will belie no man, but this I may say, Here standeth he that brought me to this way:

INIQUITY. My lord, he lieth like a damned knave, The fear of death doth make him rave—

ISMAEL. His naughty company and play at dice Did me first to stealing entice: He was with me at robberies, I say it to his face; Yet can I say more in time and space.

INIQUITY. Thou hast said too much, I beshrew thy whoreson's face. [Aside. Hang him, my lord, out of the way, The thief careth not what he doth say. Let me be hangman, I will teach him a sleight; For fear of talking, I will strangle him straight; Tarry here that list, for I will go— [He would go.

JUDGE. No, no, my friend, not so; I thought always ye should not be good, And now it will prove, I see, by the rood. [They take him in a halter; he fighteth with them. Take him, and lay him in irons strong, We will talk with you more, ere it be long.

INIQUITY. He that layeth hands on me in this place, Ich lay my brawling iron on his face! By Gog's blood, I defy thy worst; If thou shouldest hang me, I were accurst. I have been at as low an ebb as this, And quickly aloft again, by Gis! I have mo friends than ye think I have; I am entertained of all men like no slave: Yea, within this moneth, I may say to you, I will be your servant and your master too. Yea, creep into your breast, will ye have it so?

JUDGE. Away with them both, lead them away At his death tell me what he doth say, For then belike he will not lie.

INIQUITY, I care not for you both, no, not a fly! [They lead them out.

JUDGE. If no man have here more matter to say, I must go hence some other way. [He goeth out.


WORLDLY SHAME. Ha, ha! though I come in rudely, be not aghast, I must work a feat in all the haste; I have caught two birds, I will set for the dame, If I catch her in my clutch, I will her tame.

Of all this while know ye not my name? I am right worshipful master Worldly Shame; The matter that I come now about Is even this, I put you out of doubt—

There is one[243] Xantippe, a curst shrew, I think all the world doth her know, Such a jade she is, and so curst a quean, She would out-scold the devil's dame, I ween.

Sirs, this fine woman had babes three, Twain the dearest darlings that might be, Ismael and fair Dalilah these two: With the lout Barnabas I have nothing to do.

All was good, that these tiddlings do might: Swear, lie, steal, scold, or fight: Cards, dice, kiss, clip, and so forth: All this our mammy would take in good worth.

Now, sir, Dalilah my daughter is dead of the pox, And my son hang'th[244] in chains, and waveth his locks. These news will I tell her, and the matter so frame, That she shall be thine own, master Worldly Shame! Ha, ha, ha!—

XANTIPPE. Peace, peace, she cometh hereby, I spoke no word of her, no, not I.

WORLDLY SHAME. O Mistress Xantippe, I can tell you news:[245] The fair wench, your dear daughter Dalilah, Is dead of the pox taken at the stews; And thy son Ismael, that pretty boy, Whom I dare say you loved very well, Is hanged in chains, every[246] man can tell. Every man saith thy daughter was a strong whore, And thy son a strong thief and a murderer. It must needs grieve you wonderous, That they died so shamefully both two: Men will taunt you and mock you, for they say now The cause of their death was even very you.

XANTIPPE. I the cause of their death? [She would sowne.[247]

WORLDLY SHAME. Will ye sowne, the devil stop thy breath? Thou shalt die (I trow) with more shame; I will get me hence out of the way, If the whore should die, men would me blame; That I killed her, knaves should say. [Exit.

XANTIPPE. Alas, alas, and well-away! I may curse the time that I was born, Never woman had such fortune, I dare say; Alas, two of my children be forlorn.

My fair daughter Dalilah is dead of the pox: My dear son Ismael hanged up in chains. Alas, the wind waveth his yellow locks,[248] It slayeth my heart, and breaketh my brains.

Why should God punish and plague me so sore? To see my children die so shamefully! I will never eat bread in this world more, With this knife will I slay myself by and by. [She would stick herself with a knife.


BARNABAS. Beware what ye do; fye, mother, fye! Will ye spill yourself for your own offence, And seem for ever to exclude God's mercy? God doth punish you for your negligence: Wherefore take his correction with patience, And thank him heartily, that of his goodness He bringeth you in knowledge of your trespass.

For when my brother and sister were of young age, You saw they were given to idleness and play, Would apply no learning, but live in outrage.

And men complained on them every day. Ye winked at their faults, and tiddled them alway; By maintenance they grew to mischief and ill, So at last God's justice did[249] them both spill.

In that God preserved me, small thank to you: If God had not given me special grace, To avoid evil and do good, this is true, I had lived and died in as wretched case, As they did, for I had both suffrance and space; But it is an old proverb, you have heard it, I think: That God will have see, shall not wink.

Yet in this we may all take comfort: They took great repentance, I heard say, And as for my sister, I am able to report, She lamented for her sins to her dying day: To repent and believe I exhorted her alway; Before her death she believed, that God of his mercy, For Christ's sake would save her eternally. If you do even so, ye need not despair, For God will freely remit your sins all, Christ hath paid the ransom, why should ye fear? To believe this and do well, to God for grace call. All worldly cares let pass and fall, And thus comfort my father I pray you heartily, [Xantippe goeth out. I have a little to say, I will come by and by.

Right gentle audience, by this interlude ye may see, How dangerous it is for the frailty of youth, Without good governance, to live at liberty, Such chances as these oft happen of truth: Many miscarry, it is the more ruth, By negligence of their elders and not taking pain, In time good learning and qualities to attain.

Therefore exhort[250] I all parents to be diligent In bringing up their children aye[251] to be circumspect; Lest they fall to evil, be not negligent; But chastise them, before they be sore infect: Accept their well-doing, in ill them reject. A young plant ye may plant and bow as ye will; Where it groweth strong, there will it abide still.

Even so by children: in their tender age Ye may work them, like wax, to your own intent; But if ye suffer them long to live in outrage, They will be sturdy and stiff, and will not relent. O ye children, let your time be well-spent, Apply your learning, and your elders obey; It will be your profit another day.

Now, for the Queen's royal majesty let us pray, [He kneeleth down. That God (in whose hands is the heart of all queens), May endue her highness with godly puissance alway: That her grace may long reign and prosper in all things, In God's word and justice may give light to all queens. Let us pray for the honourable council and nobility, That they may always counsel us[252] wisdom with tranquillity, God save the Queen, the realm, and commonalty!

[He maketh courtesy and goeth out.


* * * * *


_It is good to be merry But who can be merry?[253] He that hath a pure conscience, He may well be merry.[254]

Who hath a pure conscience, tell me? No man of himself, I ensure thee, Then must it follow of necessity, That no man can be merry.

Purity itself may pureness give; You must ask it of God in true belief; Then will he give it, and none repreve:[255] And so we may be merry.

What is the practice of a conscience pure? To love and fear God, and other allure, And for his sake to help his neighbour: Then may he well be merry.

What shall we have, that can and will do this? After this life everlasting bliss, Yet not by desert, but by gift, i-wis: There God make us all merry!_




A newe mery and wittie Comedie or Enterlude, newely imprinted, treating upon the Historie of Iacob and Esau, taken out of the xxvij. Chap. of the first booke of Moses entituled Genesis. Imprinted at London by Henrie Bynneman, dwelling in Knight-rider Streate, at the signe of the Mermayde. Anno Domini. 1568. 4to.

This piece is placed earlier in the series than the mere date of publication given above would warrant, because the interlude was licensed in 1557-8, and probably published in pursuance of its registration at Stationers' Hall. The 4to of 1568 is, however, the only impression hitherto recovered, and it is of the greatest rarity. An account of this dramatic curiosity will be found in Collier's "History of English Dramatic Poetry," 1831. It is now for the first time reprinted.


1. THE PROLOGUE, a Poet. 2. ISAAC, an old man, father to Jacob and Esau. 3. REBECCA, an old woman, wife to Isaac. 4. ESAU, a young man and a hunter. 5. JACOB, a young man of godly conversation. 6. ZETHAR, a neighbour. 7. HANAN, a neighbour to Isaac also. 8. RAGAN, servant unto Esau. 9. MIDO, a little boy, leading Isaac. 10. DEBORAH, the nurse of Isaac's tent. 11. ABRA, a little wench, servant to Rebecca.


In the book of Genesis it is expressed, That when God to Abraham made sure promise, That in his seed all nations should be blessed: To send him a son by Sarah he did not miss. Then to Isaac (as there recorded it is) By Rebecca his wife, who had long time been barren, When pleased him, at one birth he sent sons twain.

But before Jacob and Esau yet born were, Or had either done good, or ill perpetrate: As the prophet Malachi and Paul witness bear, Jacob was chosen, and Esau reprobate: Jacob I love (saith God) and Esau I hate. For it is not (saith Paul) in man's renewing or will, But in God's mercy, who chooseth whom he will.

But now for our coming we shall exhibit here, Of Jacob and Esau how the story was; Whereby God's adoption may plainly appear: And also that, whatever God's ordinance was, Nothing might defeat, but that it must come to pass. That, if this story may your eyes or ears delight, We pray you of patience, while we it recite.



RAGAN, the servant. ESAU, a young man, his master.

[Ragan entereth with his horn at his back and his hunting staff in his hand, and leadeth three greyhounds, or one, as may be gotten.

Now let me see what time it is by the starlight? God's for his grace, man, why it is not yet midnight! We might have slept these four hours yet, I dare well say; But this is our good Esau his common play:

[Here he counterfeiteth how his master calleth him up in the mornings, and of his answers.

What the devil aileth him? now truly, I think plain, He hath either some worms or botts in his brain. He scarcely sleepeth twelve good hours in two weeks. I wot well his watching maketh me have lean cheeks, For there is none other life with him day by day, But, up, Ragan! up, drowsy hogshead! I say! Why, when? up, will it not be? up. I come anon. Up, or I shall raise you in faith, ye drowsy whoreson. Why, when? shall I fet you? I come, sir, by and by. Up, with a wild wanion! how long wilt thou lie? Up, I say, up, at once! up, up, let us go hence: It is time we were in the forest an hour since. Now the devil stop that same yalling throat (think I) Somewhiles: for from the call[257] farewell all wink of eye! Begin he once to call, I sleep no more that stound, Though half an hour's sleep were worth ten thousand pound. Anon, when I come in, and bid him good morrow: Ah sir, up at last? the devil give thee sorrow! Now the devil break thy neck (think I by and by), That hast no wit to sleep, nor in thy bed to lie. Then come on at once; take my quiver and my bow, Fet Lovel my hound, and my horn to blow. Then forth go we fasting an hour or two ere day, Before we may well see either our hands or way, And there range we the wild forest, no crumb of bread From morning to stark night coming within our head; Sometimes Esau's self will faint for drink and meat, So that he would be glad of a dead horse to eat. Yet of fresh the next morrow forth he will again, And sometime not come home in a whole night or twain: Nor no delight he hath, no appetite nor mind. But to the wild forest, to hunt the hart or hind, The roebuck, the wild boar, the fallow-deer, or hare: But how poor Ragan shall dine, he hath no care. Poor I must eat acorns or berries from the tree. But if I be found slack in the suit following, Or if I do fail in blowing or hallooing; Or if I lack my staff or my horn by my side: He will be quick enough to fume, chafe, and chide. Am I not well at ease such a master to serve, As must have such service, and yet will let me starve? But, in faith, his fashions displease mo than me, And will have but a mad end one day, we shall see. He passeth nothing on Rebecca his mother, And much less passeth he on Jacob his brother. But peace, mum, no more: I see master Esau.

[Here Esau appeareth in sight, and bloweth his horn, ere he enter.

ESAU. How now, are we all ready, servant Ragan? Art thou up for all day, man? art thou ready now?

RAGAN. I have been here this half-hour, sir, waiting for you,

ESAU. And is all thing ready, as I bad, to my mind?

RAGAN. Ye have no cause, that I know, any fault to find: Except that we disease our tent and neighbours all With rising over early each day, when ye call.

ESAU. Ah, thou drowsy draffsack, wouldest thou rise at noon? Nay, I trow the sixth hour with thee were over-soon.

RAGAN. Nay, I speak of your neighbours, being men honest, That labour all the day, and would fain be at rest: Whom with blowing your horn ye disease all-abouts.

ESAU. What care I for waking a sort of clubbish louts?

RAGAN. And I speak of Rebecca your mother, our dame.

ESAU. Tut, I pass not, whether she do me praise or blame.

RAGAN. And I speak of your good father, old Isaac.

ESAU. Peace, foolish knave: as for my father Isaac, In case he be asleep, I do him not disease, And if he be waking, I know I do him please, For he loveth me well from mine nativity, [Here Esau bloweth his horn again. And never so as now for mine activity. Therefore have at it: once more will I blow my horn To give my neighbour louts an hail-peal in a morn. [Here he speaketh to his dogs. Now, my master Lightfoot, how say you to this gear, Will you do your duty to red or fallow deer? And, Swan, mine own good cur, I do think in my mind The game shall run apace, if thou come far behind: And ha, Takepart, come, Takepart, here: how say you, child, Wilt not thou do thy part? yes, else I am beguil'd. But I shrew your cheeks, they have had too much meat.

RAGAN. I blame not dogs to take it, if they may it get: But as for my part, they could have, parde, A small remnant of that that ye give me. They may run light enough for ought of me they got, I had not a good meal's-meat this week, that I wot.

ESAU. If we have luck this day to kill hare, teg,[258] or doe, Thou shalt eat thy bellyful, till thou criest ho.

RAGAN. I thank you, when I have it, Master Esau.

ESAU. Well, come on, let us go now, servant Ragan. Is there anything more, that I should say or do? For perhaps we come not again this day or two.

RAGAN. I know nothing, master, to God I make a vow, Except you would take your brother Jacob with you: I never yet saw him with you an hunting go, Shall we prove him once, whether he will go or no?

ESAU. No, no, that were in vain, alas, good simple mome: Nay, he must tarry and suck mother's dug at home: Jacob must keep home, I trow, under mother's wing; To be from the tents he loveth not of all thing. Jacob loveth no hunting in the wild forest: And would fear, if he should there see any wild beast. Yea, to see the game run, Jacob would be in fear.

RAGAN. In good sooth, I ween he would think each hare a bear.

ESAU. What, brother mine, what a word call ye that?

RAGAN. Sir, I am scarce waked: I spake, ere I wist what.

ESAU. Come on your ways, my child, take the law of the game. I will wake you, I trow, and set your tongue in frame.

RAGAN. O, what have you done, Master Esau, God's apes?

ESAU. Why can ye not yet refrain from letting such scapes? Come on, ye must have three jerts[259] for the nonce. One— [Beats him.

RAGAN. O, for God's love, sir, have done, dispatch at once.

ESAU. Nay there is no remedy but bide it—there is twain. [Gives him another jerk.

RAGAN. O, ye rent my cheverel; let me be past my pain.

ESAU. Take heed of hunting terms fro henceforth!—there is three. [Jerks him again.

RAGAN. Whoop! now a mischief on all moping fools for me! Jacob shall keep the tents ten year for Ragan, Ere I move again that he hunt with Esau.

ESAU. Come on, now let us go. God send us game and luck, And if my hand serve me well—

RAGAN (aside). Ye will kill a duck.

[Exeant ambo.


HANAN, ZETHAR, two of Isaac's neighbours.

HANAN. Ah, sir, I see I am an early man this morn, I am once more beguil'd with Esau his horn. But there is no such stirrer as Esau is: He is up day by day, before the crow piss: Then maketh he with his horn such toohing and blowing, And with his wide throat such shouting and hallooing, That no neighbour shall in his tent take any rest, From Esau addresseth him to the forest. So that he maketh us, whether we will or no, Better husbands than we would be, abroad to go Each of us about our business and our wark. But whom do I see yonder coming in the dark? It is my neighbour Zethar, I perceive him now.

ZETHAR. What, neighbour Hanan, well met, good morrow to you. I see well now I am not beguiled alone: But what boot to lie still? for rest we can take none; That I marvel much of old father Isaac, Being so godly a man, why he is so slack To bring his son Esau to a better stay.

HANAN. What should he do in the matter, I you pray?

ZETHAR. O, it is no small charge to fathers, afore God, So to train their children in youth under the rod That, when they come to age, they may virtue ensue, Wicked pranks abhor, and all lewdness eschew, And me-thinketh Isaac, being a man as he is— A chosen man of God, should not be slack in this.

HANAN. Alack, good man, what should he do more than he hath done? I dare say no father hath better taught his son, Nor no two have given better example of life Unto their children than both he and his wife: As by their younger son Jacob it doth appear. He liveth no loose life: he doth God love and fear. He keepeth here in the tents, like a quiet man: He giveth not himself to wildness any when. But Esau evermore from his young childhood Hath been like to prove ill, and never to be good. Young it pricketh (folks do say), that will be a thorn, Esau hath been naught, ever since he was born. And whereof cometh this? of education? Nay, it is of his own ill inclination. They were brought up both under one tuition; But they be not both of one disposition. Esau is given to loose and lewd living.

ZETHAR. In faith, I warrant him [to] have but shrewd thriving.

HANAN. Neither see I any hope, that he will amend.

ZETHAR. Then let him even look to come to an ill end. For youth that will follow none but their own bridle, That leadeth a dissolute life and an idle: Youth, that refuseth wholesome documents, Or to take example of their godly parents: Youth, that is retchless, and taketh no regard, What become of themself, nor which end go forward: It is great marvel and a special grace, If ever they come to goodness all their life space. But why do we consume this whole morning in talk Of one that hath no reck ne care, what way he walk, We had been as good to have kept our bed still.

HANAN. O, it is our part to lament them that do ill. Like as very nature a godly heart doth move Others' good proceedings to tender and to love: So such as in no wise to goodness will be brought, What good man but will mourn, since God us all hath wrought, But ye have some business, and so have I.

ZETHAR. And we have been long; farewell, neighbour, heartily.


REBECCA, the mother. JACOB, the son.

REBECCA. Come forth, son Jacob, why tarriest thou behind?

JACOB. Forsooth, mother, I thought ye had said all your mind.

REBECCA. Nay, come, I have yet a word or two more to say.

JACOB. Whatsoever pleaseth you, speak to me ye may.

REBECCA. Seeing thy brother Esau is such an one, Why rebukest thou him not, when ye are alone? Why dost thou not give him some good sad wise counsel?

JACOB. He lacketh not that, mother, if it would avail. But when I do him any thing of his fault[s] tell, He calleth me foolish proud boy, with him to mell. He will sometime demand, by what authority I presume to teach them which mine elders be? He will sometime ask, if I learn of my mother To take on me teaching of mine elder brother? Sometime, when I tell him of his lewd behaviour, He will lend me a mock or twain for my labour: And sometime for anger he will out with his purse, And call me, as please him, and swear he will do worse.

REBECCA. O Lord, that to bear such a son it was my chance.

JACOB. Mother, we must be content with God's ordinance.

REBECCA. Or, if I should need have Esau to my son, Would God thou, Jacob, haddest the eldership won.

JACOB. Mother, it is too late to wish; for that is pass'd; It will not be done now, wish ye never so fast. And I would not have you to wish against God's will: For both it is in vain, and also it is ill.

REBECCA. Why did it not please God, that thou shouldest as well Tread upon his crown, as hold him fast by the heel?

JACOB. Whatsoever mystery the Lord therein meant, Must be referred to his unsearched judgment. And whatsoever he hath 'ppointed me unto, I am his own vessel, his will with me to do.

REBECCA. Well, some strange thing therein of God intended was.

JACOB. And what he hath decreed, must sure come to pass.

REBECCA. I remember, when I had you both conceived, A voice thus saying from the Lord I received: Rebecca, in thy womb are now two nations Of unlike natures and contrary fashions. The one shall be a mightier people elect: And the elder to the younger shall be subject. I know this voice came not to me of nothing: Therefore thou shalt follow my counsel in one thing.

JACOB. So it be not displeasing to the Lord, I must.

REBECCA. I fear the Lorde eke, who is merciful and just: And loth would I be his majesty to offend; But by me (I doubt not) to work he doth intend. Assay, if thou canst at some one time or other, To buy the right of eldership from thy brother: Do thou buy the birthright, that to him doth belong, So may'st thou have the blessing, and do him no wrong. What thou hast once bought, is thine own of due right.

JACOB. Mother Rebecca, if withouten fraud I might, I would your advice put in ure with all my heart, But I may not attempt any such guileful part. To buy my brother's eldership and his birthright, I fear, would be a great offence in God's sight. Which thing, if I wist to redeem, I ne would, Though I might get thereby ten millions of gold.

REBECCA. God who, by his word and almightiful decree, Hath appointed thee Esau his lord to be, Hath appointed some way to have it brought about; And that is this way, my sprite doth not doubt.

JACOB. Upon your word, mother, I will assay ere long; Yet it grudgeth my heart to do my brother wrong.

REBECCA. Thou shalt do no wrong, son Jacob, on my peril.

JACOB. Then, by God's leave, once assay I will.

REBECCA. Then farewell, dear son, God's blessing and mine with thee.

JACOB. I will again to the tent. Well you be!

[Exeat Jacob.

REBECCA. Ah, my sweet son Jacob, good fortune God thee send! The most gentle young man alive, as God me mend! And the most natural to father and mother: O, that such a meek spirit were in thy brother; Or thy sire loved thee, as thou hast merited, And then should Esau soon be disinherited.


ISAAC, the husband. REBECCA, the wife. MIDO, the lad that leadeth blind Isaac.

ISAAC. Where art thou, my boy Mido, when I do thee lack?

MIDO. Who calleth Mido? here, good master Isaac.

ISAAC. Come, lead me forth of doors a little, I thee pray.

MIDO. Lay your hand on my shoulder, and come on this way.

REBECCA. Now, O Lord of heaven, the fountain of all grace, If it be thy good will, that my will shall take place: Send success to Jacob, according to thy word, That his elder brother may serve him as his lord.

MIDO. Sir, whither would ye go, now that abroad ye be?

ISAAC. To wife Rebecca.

MIDO. Yonder I do her see.

REBECCA. Lord, thou knowest Jacob to be thy servant true, And Esau all froward thy ways to ensue.

MIDO. Yonder she is speaking, whatever she doth say: By holding up her hands, it seemeth she doth pray.

ISAAC. Where be ye, wife Rebecca? where be ye, woman?

REBECCA. Who is that calleth? Isaac, my good man?

ISAAC. Where be ye, wife Rebecca, let me understand?

MIDO. She cometh to you apace.

REBECCA. Here, my lord, at hand.

ISAAC. Saving that whatsoever God doth is all right, No small grief it were for a man to lack his sight. But what the Lord doth send or work by his high will—

REBECCA. Cannot but be the best, no such thing can be ill.

ISAAC. All bodily punishment or infirmity, With all maims of nature, whatever they be, Yea, and all other afflictions temporal: As loss, persecution, or troubles mortal, Are nothing but a trial or probation. And what is he that firmly trusteth in the Lord, Or steadfastly believeth his promise and word, And knoweth him to be the God omnipotent, That feedeth and governeth all that he hath sent: Protecting his faithful in every degree, And them to relieve in all their necessity? What creature (I say) that doth this understand, Will not take all thing in good heart at God's hand? Shall we at God's hand receive prosperity, And not be content likewise with adversity? We ought to be thankful whatever God doth send, And ourselves wholly to his will to commend.

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